Natural History (Rackham, Jones, & Eichholz)/Book 32
I. THE course of my subject has brought me to the greatest of Nature's works, and I am actually met by such an unsought and overwhelming proof of hidden power that inquiry should really be pursued no further, and nothing equal or similar can be found, Nature surpassing herself, and that in numberless ways. For what is more violent than sea, winds, whirlwinds, and storms? By what greater skill of man has Nature been aided in any part of herself than by mils and oars? Let there be added to these the indescribable force of tidal ebb and flow, the whole sea being turned into a river. All these, however, although acting in the same direction, are checked by a single specimen of the sucking fish, a very small fish. Bales may blow and storms may rage; this fish rules their fury, restrains their mighty strength, and brings vessels to a stop, a thing no cables can do, nor yet anchors of unmanageable weight that have been cast. It cheeks their attacks and tames the madness of the Universe with no toil of its own, not by resistance, or in any way except by adhesion. This little creature suffices in the face of all these forces to prevent vessels from moving. But armoured fleets bear aloft on their decks a rampart of towers, so that fighting may like place even at sea as from the walls of a fortress. How futile a creature is man, seeing that those rams, armed for striking with bronze and iron, can be checked and held fast by a little fish six inches long! It is said that at the battle of Actium the fish stopped the flagship of Antonius, who was hastening to go round and encourage his men, until he changed his ship for another one, and so the fleet of Caesar at once made a more violent attack. Within our memory the fish stayed the ship of the Emperor Gaius as he was sailing back from Astura to Antium. As it turned out, the little fish also proved ominous, because very soon after that Emperor's return to Rome on this occasion he was stabbed by his own men. This delay caused no long surprise, for the reason was immediately discovered; of the whole fleet the quinquereme alone making no progress, men at once dived and swam round the ship to trace the cause. They found this fish sticking to the rudder and showed it to Gaius, who was furious that it had been such a thing that was keeping him back and vetoing the obedience to himself of four hundred rowers. It was agreed that what astonished him in particular was how the fish had stopped him by sticking to the outside, yet when inside the ship it had not the same power. Those who saw the fish then or afterwards say that it is like a large slug. I have given the views of the majority in my account of water creatures, where I discussed the fish, and I do not doubt all this kind of fish have the same power, since there is a famous and even divinely sanctioned example in the temple of the Cnidian Venus, where snails too, we are forced to believe, have the same potency. Of the Roman authorities some have given this fish the Latin name of mora, and a marvel is told by some Greeks, who have related, as I have said, that worn as an amulet it arrests miscarriage, and by reducing procidence of the uterus allows the foetus to reach maturity; others say that preserved in salt and worn as an amulet it delivers pregnant women, this being the reason why another name, odiaolytes, is given to it. However these things may be, would anybody after this instance of staying a ship's course entertain doubts about any power, force, and efficacy of nature, to be found in remedies from things that grow spontaneously?
II. But surely, even without this example, evidence enough by itself could be found in the electric-ray, which also is a sea creature. Even at a distance, and that a long distance, or if it is touched with a spear or rod, to think that the strongest arms are numbed, feet as swift in racing as you like are paralysed. But if this example forces us to confess that there is a force which by smell alone, and by what I may call the breath from the creature's body, so affects our limbs, what limits are there to our hopes based on the potency of all remedies?
III. No less wonderful things are related of the sea-hare. To some it is poison if given in drink or food, to others if merely seen, since pregnant women, if they have but looked at one, the female, that is, of the species, at once feel nausea, show by regurgitation signs of a disordered stomach, and then miscarry. The remedy is a male specimen, specially hardened for this purpose with salt, to be worn in a bracelet. In the sea, however, it does not hurt, even by touch. There feeds on it without being killed one creature only, red mullet, which merely becomes flabby, more insipid, and coarser. Struck by it a human being smells of fish; this is the first symptom by which such poisoning is detected. Furthermore, the victims die in the same number of days as the hare has lived, and Licinius Macer is authority for saying that this poison has variable periods for its action. They say that in India a the sea-hare is never caught alive; and that inversely man is there poisonous to the hare that even a mere touch of a human finger in the sea is fatal to it; but that like all other animals the Indian variety is far larger.
IV. In those volumes about Arabia which he dedicated to Gaius Caesar, the son of Augustus, Juba related that there are mussels there with shells holding three heminae; that a whale 600 feet long and 360 feet broad entered a river of Arabia; that merchants did a trade with its blubber; and that camels in that district are rubbed all over with the fat of any fish, so that gadflies may be kept away by the smell.
V. Wonderful too appear to me the characters of fishes given by Ovid in his book entitled Halieuticon: how the scarus, caught in a weel, does not burst out to the front, or thrust his head through the osiers that imprison him, but turns round, widens the gaps with repeated blows of his tail, and so creeps backwards. If by chance his struggles are seen by another scarus outside, he seizing the other's tail with his teeth helps the efforts to burst out. The basse, he says, when surrounded by a net, ploughs a hole in the sand with his tail, and so is buried until the net passes over him. He says too that the murena, knowing that his back is rounded and slippery, attacks the meshes themselves, and then by involved wriggling widens them until he escapes; that the polypus attacks the hook, grips it with his tentacles, not teeth, and does not let it go before he has nibbled round the bait, or been lifted out of the water by the rod. The mugil too knows that in the bait is a hook, and is quite aware of the trap; his greed however is so great that by lashing with his tail he knocks off the food. The basse has less cunning insight, but great strength when he realizes his mistake. For when caught on the hook he dashes about wildly, widening the wounds until the snare is torn out. The murena swallows more than the hook, applies the line to his teeth, and so gnaws it through. Ovid also relates that the anthias, when the hook catches, turns over, since on his back is a spine with a knife-edge, with which he cuts through the line.
Licinius Macer relates that the murena is female only, and conceives out of serpents, as I have said, and that therefore fishermen whistle in imitation of a serpent's call, and so catch the fish, and ... grow fat; that a club hurled at them does not kill, but fennel-giant kills at once. It is certain that the seat of life is in their tail, for if this is struck they very quickly die, but it is difficult to kill them by blows on the head. Those touched by the razor-fish smell of iron. It is a well-known fact that the hardest fish is the orbis, which is round, without scales, and all head?
VI. Trebius Niger tells us that the xiphias, that is the swordfish, has a pointed beak, by which ships are pierced and sunk; in the open sea, off the place in Mauretania called Cottae, not far from the river Lixus, the same authority tells us that the lolligo flies out of the water in such numbers as to sink a vessel. Whenever the lolligo, he says, is seen flying out of the water a change of weather occurs.
VII. In several country seats indeed of the Emperor fish eat out of the hand, butwhat our old writers have recorded with wonder as occurring in natural pools, not fishpondsat Helorus, a fortress of Sicily not far from Syracuse, and likewise in the spring of Jupiter of Lahraynda, the eels even wear earrings, as do the fishes in Chios near the Shrine of the Old Men, and in the spring Chabura also in Mesopotamia, about which I have spoken.
VIII. But at Myra in Lycia in the spring of Apollo called Curium, when summoned three times by the pipe the fishes come to give oracular responses. For the fish to snap at the meat thrown to them is a happy augury for enquirers, to cast it aside with their tails an augury of disaster. At Hieropolis in Syria the fish in the pond of Venus obey the voice of the temple ministers; they come at their call adorned with gold, fawning to be scratched, and offer gaping mouths to receive their hands. At Stabiae in Campania at the Rock of Hercules the melanuri in the sea seize the bread thrown to them, but they will not go near any food in which is a hook.
IX. Nor are these the last among the marvels we know of fishes: that they are bitter near the island of Pele and near Clazomenae, over against the rock of Sicily, Leptis in Africa, Euboea, and Dyrrhachium; and again, so salt that they might be thought pickled, off Cephallania, Ampelos, Paros and the rocks of Delos; while in the harbour of Delos they are sweet. These differences depend without a doubt on the food. Apion tells us that the largest a of the fishes is the pig-fish, which the Lacedaemonians call onhagoriscus, saying that it grunts when it is caught. That this accident of nature, however (to increase our wonder), is also met with in certain localities, is suggested by a ready example, seeing that salted foods of every kind, as is well known, at Beneventum in Italy have to be resalted.
X. That sea fish were commonly eaten immediately after the foundation of Rome is told us by Cassius Hemina, whose very words on the subject I will quote here. Numa ordained that scaleless fish should not be provided at sacrificial meals, being induced by reasons of economy, so that provision could be more easily made for public and private banquets and for feasts of the gods, to prevent caterers on those sacred occasions from being extravagant and buying up the market.
XI. Coral is as valuable among the Indians as Indian pearls, about which I have spoken in their proper place, are among the Romans, for cost varies with the demand of any particular people. Coral is also found in the Red Sea, but this is of a darker colour; also in the Persian Gulfthis is called lacethe most valued is in the Gallic Gulf around the Stoechades Islands, in the Sicilian Gulf around the Aeolian Islands, and around Drepana. Coral also grows at Graviseae and before Naples in Campania; but that at Erythrae, which is very red indeed, is soft and therefore thought worthless.
In shape coral is like a shrub, and its colour is green. Its berries are white under the water and soft; when taken out they immediately harden and grow red, being like, in appearance and size, to those of cultivated cornel. It is said that at a touch it immediately petrifies, if it lives; and that therefore it is quickly seized and pulled away in nets or cut off by a sharp iron instrument. In this way they explain its name 'coral.' The most valued coral is the reddest and most branchy, without being rough or stony, or again empty and hollow. Coral berries are no less valued by Indian men than are large Indian pearls by Roman women. Indian soothsayers and seers think that coral is a very powerful amulet for warding off dangers. Accordingly they take pleasure in it both as a thing of beauty and as a thing of religious power. Before the Indian love of coral became known, the Gauls used to ornament with coral their swords, shields, and helmets. At the present day it has become so scarce because of the price it will fetch that it is very rarely to be seen in the countries where it grows. Branches of coral, worn as an amulet by babies, are believed to be protective, and reduced to powder by fire and taken with water are helpful in gripings, bladder trouble and stone; similarly, taken in wine, or, if fever is present, in water, coral is soporific. Coral resists fire for a long time, but they say also that taken in drink repeatedly as medicine it consumes the spleen. The ash of coral branches is good treatment for bringing up or spitting of blood. It is a component of eye salves, for it is astringent and cooling, fills up the hollows of ulcers, and smoothes out scars.
XII. As to the hostility between things, which the Greeks call antipathia, there is nowhere anything more venomous than the stingray in the sea, since we have said that by its ray trees are killed. The galeos however chases the stingray, and also indeed other fishes, but the sting-ray in particular, just as on land the weasel chases serpents, so great is its greed for the very poison itself. Those however stung by the sting-ray find good treatment in the galeos, as well as in red mullet and laser.
XIII. Equally remarkable is the might of Nature in those creatures also which are amphibious, such as the beaver, which they call castor and its testes castoreum. Sextius, a very careful inquirer into medical subjects, denies that the beaver himself bites off his own testes when it is being captured; he says that on the contrary these are small, tightly knit, attached to the spine, and not to be taken away without destroying the creature's life. Castoreum (beaver-oil) he says is however adulterated by beaver's kidneys, which are large, while the real testes are found to be very small. Moreover, they cannot even be the creature's bladders, for they are twin, and no animal has two bladders. In these pouches (he goes on) is found a liquid, which is preserved in salt. Accordingly one of the tests of fraud is whether two pouches hang down from one connection, while the liquid itself is adulterated by adding to it cummin and beaver blood or ammoniacum, because the testes ought to be of the colour of ammoniacum, coated with a liquid like waxy honey, with a strong smell, a bitter taste, and friable. The most efficacious castoreum comes from Pontus and Galatia, the next best from Africa. Doctors cause sneezing by its smell. It is soporific if the head is rubbed all over with beaver oil, rose oil, and peucedanum, or if by itself it is taken in water, for which reason it is useful in brain fever. It also arouses, by the smell of fumigation, sufferers from coma and hysterical, fainting women, the latter also by a pessary; it is an emmenagogue and brings away the afterbirth if two drachmae are taken in water with pennyroyal. It is also a remedy for vertigo, opisthotonus, palsied tremors, cramps, sinew pains, sciatica, stomach troubles, and paralysis; in all cases by rubbing all over, or ground to the consistency of honey with seed of vitex in vinegar and rose oil. In this form it is taken for epilepsy, but in drink for flatulence, griping and poisons. The only difference in its use for the various poisons lies in the ingredients with which it is mixed. For scorpion bites it is taken in wine; for the phalangium and other spiders in honey wine if it is to be vomited back or with rue if it is to be retained; for the chalcis a with myrtle wine; for the homed asp and prester with panaces or rue in wine; for the bites of other serpents with wine. Two drachmae are a sufficient dose, of the other ingredients one drachma. It is specific in vinegar for mistletoe poisoning, in milk or water for poisoning by aconite, for white hellebore in oxymel and soda. It also cures toothache if pounded with oil; it is poured into the ear on the side of the pain; for earache it is better mixed with poppy juice. Added to Attic honey and used as an ointment it improves the vision. In vinegar it checks hiccoughs. Beaver urine, too, counteracts poisons, and therefore is added to antidotes. It is however best preserved, as some think, in the beaver's bladder.
XIV. Like the beaver the tortoise is amphibious, and of the same medical properties, distinguished by the high price given for its use, and by its peculiar shape. So there are various kinds: tortoises that live on land, in the sea, in muddy water, and in fresh water. The last are called by some Greeks emydes.
The flesh of the land tortoise is reported to be especially useful for fumigations, to keep off magical tricks, and to counteract poisons. It is most common in Africa. There the flesh of this tortoise, with its head and feet cut off, is said to be given as an antidote, and taken in its broth as food to disperse scrofulous sores, to reduce the spleen, and to cure epilepsy. The blood clarifies the vision and arrests cataract. For the poisons of all serpents, spiders and similar creatures, and of frogs, it is of service; the blood is preserved in flour, made up into pills, and given in wine when necessary. It is beneficial to use the gall of tortoises with Attic honey as an eyewash for opaqueness of the lens, and to drop it into the wounds made by scorpions. The shell, reduced to ash and kneaded with wine and oil, heals chaps and sores on the feet. Shavings from the top of the shell and given in drink are antaphrodisiac. This is all the more surprising because the whole shell, reduced to powder, is said to incite to lust. The urine of this tortoise, I believe, is found only in the bladder of dissected animals, and this is one of the substances to which the Magi give supernatural virtues as being specific for the bites of asps; a more efficacious one, however, they say, if bugs are added. The eggs are applied hard boiled to scrofulous sores, frost bites and burns. They are swallowed for pains in the stomach.
The flesh of sea tortoises mixed with that of frogs is an excellent remedy for salamander bites, and nothing is more opposed to the salamander than the tortoise. Its blood is good treatment for the bare patches of mange, for dandruff, and for all sores on the head; it should be allowed to dry and then gently washed off. With woman's milk it is poured by drops into aching ears. For epilepsy it is taken with wheaten flour, but three heminae of blood are diluted with one hemina of vinegar. It is also given for asthma, but with a hemina of wine added; for this purpose also with barley flour, vinegar too being added, so that the dose to be swallowed is the size of a bean. One of these doses is given morning and evening; then after a few days a double dose is given in the evening. The mouths of epileptics are opened and the blood poured by drops into them; to those seized with a slight convulsion is given an enema of the blood and beaver oil. If teeth are rinsed with tortoise blood three times a year a they will become immune to toothache. It is a remedy too for shortness of breath and for what is called orthopnoea; when so used it is administered in pearl barley. Tortoise gall gives clearness of vision, effaces sears, relieves sore tonsils, quinsy, and all diseases of the mouth, being specific for malignant sores there and on the testicles. If the nostrils are smeared with it, epileptics are roused and made to stand up. The gall too with snakes' slough and vinegar is also a sovereign remedy for pus in the ears. Some mix ox gall with the broth of boiled tortoise-flesh, adding the same amount of snakes' slough, but they boil the tortoise in wine. An application of the gall with honey cures especially all affections of the eyes; cataract is also cured by the gall of sea tortoise with the blood of river tortoise and milk. Woman's hair is dyed by the gall. For salamander bites it is enough merely to drink the broth of a decoction.
A third kind of tortoise lives in mud and marshes. These have a level width, like that across the breast, over the back also; this is not rounded into a cup-like convexityindeed an unpleasant sight. Yet from this creature also a few remedies are obtained. For three are together thrown on burning brushwood, and when the shells separate they are at once taken off; the flesh is then torn away and boiled in a congius of water with a little salt added. The broth is boiled down to one third and taken for paralysis and diseases of the joints. The gall of this creature carries off phlegms and vitiated blood. This remedy taken in cold water acts astringently on the bowels.
There is a fourth kind of tortoise, which lives in rivers. The shells being torn off, the fats are beaten up with houseleek mixed with unguent and lily seed. If of a patient all the body except the head is rubbed with this preparation before the paroxysms come on, and he is then wrapped up and drinks hot water, he is cured, it is said, of quartan ague. This tortoise, they say, should be killed on the fifteenth of the moon, so that more fats may be obtained from it, but the patient should be rubbed on the sixteenth. The blood too of this kind of tortoise, poured in drops on the skull, relieves headache as well as scrofulous sores. There are some a who recommend tortoises to be laid on their backs, their heads chopped off with a bronze knife, and the blood caught in new earthenware; this blood is to be used as embrocation for all kinds of erysipelas, running sores on the head, and warts. The same authorities assure us that the dung of all tortoises disperses superficial abscesses; and others tell us (an incredible remark) that vessels travel more slowly if the right foot of a tortoise is on board.
XV. From now on I will arrange water creatures according to diseases, not that I do not know that a complete account of each living thing is more attractive and more wonderful, but it is more useful to mankind to have remedies grouped into classes, since they vary with individuals, and are more easily found in one place than in another.
XVI. I have already said where poisonous honey is found. A remedy is the gilthead fish taken in food. But if pure honey should cause nausea, or indigestion that becomes very acute, an antidote is, according to Pelops, the decoction of a tortoise with the feet, head, and tail cut off; according to Apelles, a similar decoction of a scincus; I have said what a scincus is. Several times moreover I have said how poisonous is the menstrual fluid of women; against all forms of it, as I have said, the red mullet is a help, as it is against the stingray, land- and sea-scorpions, the weever fish, and poisonous spiders. It may be applied locally or taken in food. A fresh red mullet's head, reduced to ash, is an antidote to all poisons, being specific against poisonous fungi. They say that noxious charms cannot enter, or at least cannot harm, homes where a starfish, smeared with the blood of a fox, has been fastened to the upper lintel or to the door with a bronze nail.
XVII. By an application of tortoise flesh are healed the stings of weever fish, of scorpions, and also the bites of spiders. To sum up: the gravy of tortoise meat., that is, the broth obtained by boiling it down, is considered to be a most efficacious antidote for all poisons, whether conveyed in drink, by sting, or by bite. There are also remedies from preserved fish; to eat salted fish is good for the bites of snakes and of other venomous creatures, but now and then should be drunk enough neat wine to bring back by vomiting even the food whole; a the remedy is specially good for those bitten by the chalcis lizard, horned viper, what is called seps, elops, or dipsas. For scorpion stings a bigger dose of salted fish is beneficial, but not enough to cause the vomiting, or intolerable thirst; it is also good to lay salted fish on the wounds. Against the bites of crocodiles nothing else is considered to be a more sovereign remedy. The sarda is specific against the bite of the prester. Salted fish is also applied to the bite of a mad dog; even if the wound has not been cauterised with a hot iron, and the bowels emptied with a clyster, the fish by itself is enough. Salted fish is also applied with vinegar to the wound given by the weever fish. The tunny too has the same property. The weever fish indeed, if itself, or the whole of its brain, if applied to the poisoned wound caused by a blow of his own spine, makes a good remedy.
XVIII. A decoction of sea frogs boiled down in wine and vinegar is drunk to counteract poisons, also that of the bramble toad and salamander; if the flesh of river frogs is eaten, or the broth drunk after boiling them down, it counteracts the poison of the sea-hare, of the snakes mentioned above, and of scorpions if wine is used in the preparation. Democritus indeed tells us that if the tongue, with no other flesh adhering, is extracted from a living frog, and after the frog has been set free into water, placed over the beating heart of a sleeping woman, she will give true answers to all questions.
The Magi add also other details, and if there is any truth in them, frogs should be considered more beneficial than laws to the life of mankind. They say that if frogs are pierced with a reed from the genitals through the mouth, and if the husband plants a shoot in his wife's menstrual discharge she conceives an aversion to adulterous lovers. It is certain that frogs' flesh placed in weds or on a hook makes excellent bait for the purple-fish. It is said that the liver of a frog is double, and should be thrown in the way of ants; that the part the ants attack is an antidote for all poisons. Some frogs there are that live only in brambles, and so they are called bramble-toads, as I have said, and by the Greeks φρύνοι. These are the largest of all frogs, have as it were a pair of horns, and are full of poison. Our authorities vie with one another in relating marvellous stories about the toad: that when brought into a meeting of the people silence reigns; that if the little bone found in its right side is let fall into boiling water, the vessel cools, and does not afterwards boil unless the bone is taken out; that it is found when a frog has been thrown to ants and the flesh gnawed away; that one at a time these bones are put into oil; that there is in a frog's left side a bone called 'dog's bane,' which dropped into oil gives the appearance of boiling; by it the attacks of dogs are repelled, and if it is put in drink love and quarrels brought about; that worn as an amulet it acts as an aphrodisiac; that the bone again on the right side cools boiling liquids; cures quartan and other fevers, but love is hat worn in fresh lamb's skin as an amulet this bone restrained. The spleen of these frogs is also a remedy for the poisons that come from them, while their liver is even more efficacious.
XIX. There is a snake, a colubra, that lives in the water. It is said that, if they have its fat or gall on their persons, crocodile hunters are helped wonderfully, as the brute dares not attack it at all; it is still more efficacious when combined with the plant potamogiton. Fresh river-crabs pounded and taken in water, their ash preserved, are good for all poisons, being specific for scorpion stings, if taken with asses milk, or failing that with goat's or any other milk; wine too should be added. Pounded with basil and applied to scorpions, river-crabs kill them. Their property avails also against the bites of all venomous creatures, being specific against the scytale, snakes, sea-hare, and bramble toad. Their ash preserved is good for those threatened with hydrophobia from the bite of a mad dog. Some add gentian and administer in wine, and if hydrophobia has already set in, prescribe lozenges made with the ash and wine to be swallowed. The Magi indeed assert that if ten crabs with a handful of basil are tied together, all the scorpions of the district will collect to the spot, and to those wounded by scorpions they apply with basil either crabs themselves or else their ash. For all these purposes sea crabs are less efficacious. Thrasyllus avows that no antidote for snakebite is as good as crabs; that pigs, when bitten, cure themselves by taking crabs as food; and that when the sun is in Cancer snakes are in torture. The stings of scorpions are counteracted also by the flesh of river snails, raw or cooked. Some too keep them for this purpose preserved in salt. They also apply them to the wounds themselves. Though the fish called coracini are peculiar to the Nile, I am giving this information for the benefit of all lands. Application of their flesh is good for scorpion stings. Among poisonous parts of fishes are the prickles on the back of the sea-pig, a wound from which causes severe torture. A remedy is the slime from the liquid part of the body of these fishes.
XX. When the bite of a mad dog causes a dread of drink they rub the face with the fat of a seal, with more effect if there are mixed with it the marrow of a hyena, mastic oil, and wax. The bites of the murry are healed by the head of the murry itself, reduced to ash. For the wound of the stingray a remedy is the ash, of the same ray itself or of any other specimen, applied locally in vinegar. When the fish is used as food there should be taken from its back whatever is like saffron, and the whole head removed, while the ray, and all shell fish, when used as food, should not be over-washed, as to do so spoils the flavour. The poison of the sea-hare is counteracted by the seahorse taken in drink. Sea-urchins are very good as an antidote to dorycnium, as they are also for those who have drunk juice of carpathium, especially if they are taken in their broth. Effective against dorycnium is also considered a decoction of sea-crab, and indeed specific for the poison of the seahare.
XXI. The same poisons are counteracted also by oysters. About these it cannot appear that enough has been said, seeing that they have long been considered the prize delicacy of our tables. Oysters love fresh water, and where there is an inflow from many rivers; wherefore deep-sea oysters are small and far between. They also breed, however, in rocky districts and places where no fresh water in comes, such as around Grynium and Myrina. Their growth corresponds very closely to the increase of the moon, as I said a when dealing with water-creatures, but they grow most about the beginning of summer, and where sunshine makes its way into shallows, for then they swell with copious, milky, juice. This appears to be the reason why oysters found in deep water are rather small; darkness hinders their growth, and their gloom robs them of appetite.
Oysters vary in colour; red in Spain they are tawny in Illyricum, and black, both flesh and shell, in Circeii. In every country, however, those are most prized that are compact, not greasy with their own slime, remarkable for thickness rather than breadth, taken from water neither muddy nor sandy, but from that with a hard bottom, those whose meat is short and not fleshy, those without fringed edges, and lying wholly in the hollow of the shell.
Experts add a mark of distinction: if a purple line encircle the beard, they consider such oysters to be of a nobler type, and call them 'beautifully eyebrowed.' Oysters like to travel and be moved into strange waters. And so oysters of Brundisium that have fed in Lake Avernus are believed to retain their own flavour as well as acquire that of the oysters of Lake Lucrinus.
So much for their bodies. I will now speak of the countries that breed oysters, lest the shores should be cheated of their proper fame; but I shall do so in the words of another, one who was the greatest connoisseur of such matters in our time. These then are the words of Mucianus, which I will quote. Oysters of Cyzicus are larger than those of Lake Lucrinus, fresher than the British, sweeter than those of Medullae, sharper than the Ephesian, fuller than those of Ilici, less slimy than those of Coryphas, softer than those of Histria, whiter than those of Circeii.
It is agreed, however, that none are fresher or softer than the last. The writers of Alexander's expedition tell us that in the Indian sea are found oysters a foot long, and among ourselves a spendthrift has invented the nickname tridacna, wishing it to be used of oysters so large that they require three bites.
I shall give all their medical virtues at this point. Oysters are specific for settling the stomach, they restore lost appetite, and luxury has added coolness by burying them in snow, thus wedding the tops of the mountains to the bottom of the sea. They are a gentle laxative. They also, if boiled with honey wine, cure tenesmus if there is no ulceration. They also clean an ulcerated bladder. Boiled, unopened as gathered, in their shells, they are wonderfully good for streaming colds. Reduced to ash and mixed with honey oyster shells relieve troubles of the uvula and tonsils, similarly parotid swellings, superficial abscesses and indurations of the breasts. Applied with water the ash cures sores on the head and smoothes the skin of women. It is sprinkled on burns and is popular as a dentifrice. Applied also with vinegar it cures itch and eruptions of phlegm. The purple-fish too is a good antidote to poisons. Beaten up raw, oysters cure scrofulous sores and chilblains on the feet.
XXII. Seaweed too is said by Nicander to be an antidote. There are many kinds of it, as I have one with a long, red leaf, another with a broader leaf, and a third with a curly one. The most prized is the one growing near the ground in the island of Crete among the rocks, for this dyes even wool with a colour so fixed that it cannot be washed out afterwards. Nicander recommends it to be given in wine.
XXIII. Hair lost through mange is restored by ashes of the sea-horse, either mixed with soda and pig's lard, or else by itself in vinegar; the skin however must be prepared for medicaments by the rind of the sepia cuttlefish ground to powder. It is restored also by the ash of the sea-mouse with oil, by that of the sea-urchin burnt with its flesh, by the gall of the sea-scorpion, also by the ash of three frogs with honey, better with liquid pitch, but the frogs must be burnt together alive in a jar. Leeches blacken the hair if they have rotted for forty days in a red wine. Others recommend that for the same number of days a sextarius of leeches be allowed to rot in a leaden vessel containing two sextarii of vinegar, and that then they should be applied in the sun. Sornatius tells us that they have such power that unless those who are going to dye keep oil in the mouth, the extract from the leeches blackens the teeth as well. To sores on the head are applied with honey beneficially shells of murex or purple-fish, reduced to ash; those of any shell-fish, ground to powder if not burned, and applied in water, are also beneficial. For headache use beaver-oil with pencedanum and rose-oil.
XXIV. Of all fish, river or sea, the fats, melted in the sun and mixed with honey, are very good for clearness of vision, and so is beaver oil and honey. The gall of the star-gazer heals scars, and removes superfluous flesh about the eyes. No other fish has a greater abundance of gall; this opinion, Menander too expresses in his comedies. This fish is also called uranoscopos, from the eye which it has in its head. The gall of the coracinus too improves vision, and that of the red sea-scorpion with old oil and Attic honey disperses incipient cataract; it should be applied as ointment three times, once every other day. The same treatment removes albugo from the eyes. A diet of mullet is said to dull the eyesight. Though the sea-hare itself is poisonous, yet reduced to ash it prevents from growing again superfluous hair on the eyelids that has been plucked out. For this purpose the most useful specimens are the smallest; also small scallops, salted and pounded with cedar resin, frogs called diopetae or calamitae; their blood, with vine tear-gum, should be rubbed on the lids after plucking out the hair. Swellings and redness of the eyes are soothed by an application of sepia bone with woman's milk, and by itself it is good for roughness of the lids. In this cure they turn up the lids, taking off the ointment after a little time, treat the part with rose-oil and soothe with a bread-poultice. The bone is also good treatment for night-blindness, if ground to powder and applied in vinegar. Reduced to ash it brings away scales; with honey it heals scars on the eyes; with salt and cadmia, a drachma of each, it heals inflammatory swellings, and also albugo in cattle. They say that eyelids, if rubbed by its small bone, are healed. Urchins in vinegar remove night rashes. The Magi recommend the same to be burnt with vipers' skins and frogs, and the ash to be sprinkled into drinks; they assure us that clearer vision will result. Ichthyocolla is the name of a fish that has a sticky skin; the same name is given to the glue of the fish; this disperses night rashes. Some say that ichthyocolla is made from the belly and not from the skin, just as is bull glue. Pontic ichthyocolla is popular, being white, free from veins and scales, and melting very quickly. It ought, however, to be cut up and soaked in water or vinegar for a night and a day, and then to be pounded by sea-pebbles, to make it melt more readily. They assure us that it is useful both for headache and for all tetanus. The right eye of a frog hung round the neck in a piece of undyed cloth cures ophthalniia in the right eye; the left eve similarly tied cures ophthalmia in the left. But if the frog's eyes are gouged out when the moon is in conjunction, and worn similarly by the patient, enclosed in an egg-shell, it will also cure albugo. The rest of the flesh, if applied, quickly takes away bruises. An amulet of crabs' eyes also, worn on the neck, are said to cure ophthalniia. There is a small frog, found living especially in reed-beds and grasses, deaf, without a croak, and green, which, if it by chance is swallowed, swells up the bellies of oxen. They say that the fluid of its body, scraped off with a spatula and applied to the eyes, improves vision. The flesh by itself is placed over painful eyes. Some put together into a new earthen jar fifteen frogs, piercing them with rushes; to the fluid that thus exudes they add the gum of the white vine, and so treat eyelids; superfluous hairs are plucked out, and the mixture dropped with a needle into the holes made by the plucked-out hairs. Meges used to make a depilatory for the eyelids by killing frogs in vinegar and letting them putrefy; for this purpose he used the many spotted frogs that breed in the autumn rains. The same effect is thought to be produced by leeches reduced to ash and applied in vinegar; they must be burnt in a new vessel. The same effects too by the dried liver of a tunny, in doses of four denarii added to cedar oil and applied to the hairs for nine months.
XXV. Most beneficial to the ears is the fresh gall of the skate, but also when preserved in wine, the gall of grey mullet, which some call mizyene, and also that of the star-gazer with rose-oil poured into the ears, or beaver oil poured into the ears with poppy juice. There is a creature called the sea-louse, and they recommend sea-lice to be crushed and dropped into the ears in vinegar. Wool, both by itself and dyed with the purple fish, is very good for ear troubles; some moisten it with vinegar and soda. Some there are who recommend as a sovereign remedy for all ear troubles a cyathus of first-grade gamin, half as much again honey, with a cyathus of vinegar, to be boiled down in a new cup over a slow fire, every now and then wiping away the froth with feathers, and when the mixture has ceased to froth, to pour it into the ears when tepid. Should the ears be swollen, the same authorities prescribe that the swellings should be first reduced with juice of coriander. Frog fat dropped into the ears immediately takes away pains. The juice of river crabs with barley flour is most beneficial for wounds of the ears. The ash of murex shell with honey, or that of other shell-fish in honey wine, is good treatment for parotid swellings.
XXVI. Toothache is relieved by scraping the gums with the bones of the weever fish, or by the brain of a dog-fish boiled down in oil and kept, so that the teeth may be washed with it once every year. To scrape the gums too with the ray of the stingray is very beneficial for toothache. This ray if pounded and applied with white hellebore brings out teeth without any distress. Salted fish also, reduced to ash in an earthen vessel and mixed with powdered marble, is another remedy. Old slices of tunny rinsed in a new vessel and then beaten up, are good for toothaches. Equally good are said to be the backbones of any salted fish, burnt, pounded, and applied. A single frog is boiled down in one hemina of vinegar, so that the teeth may be rinsed with the juice, which should be held in the mouth. Should the nasty taste be an objection, Sallustius Dionysius used to hang frogs by their hind legs so that the fluid from their mouths might drop into boiling vinegar, and that from several flogs. For stronger stomachs he prescribed the frogs themselves, to be eaten with their broth. It is thought that double teeth yield best to this treatment, when loose indeed the vinegar spoken of above is thought to make them firm. For the purpose some cut off the feet of two frogs and soak the bodies in a hemina of wine, and recommend loose teeth to be rinsed with the liquid. Some tie whole frogs on the jaws as an amulet; others have boiled down ten frogs in three sextarii of vinegar to one third the volume, in order to strengthen loose teeth. Furthermore they have boiled the hearts of 46 frogs under a copper vessel in one sextarius of old oil, to be poured into the ear on the side of the aching jaw. Others have boiled the liver of a frog, beaten it up with honey, and placed it on the teeth. All the above prescriptions are more efficacious if the sea frog is used. If the teeth are decayed and foul, they recommend whale's flesh to be dried for a night in a furnace, and then the same amount of salt to be added and the whole to be used as a dentifrice. The enhydris is a snake so-called by the Greeks and living in water. With four upper teeth of this creature they scrape the upper gums, when there is aching of the upper teeth, and with four lower teeth the lower gums when there is aching in the lower teeth. Some are content to use the canine tooth only of these creatures. They also use the ash of crabs, but the ash of the murex makes a dentifrice.
XXVII. Lichens and leprous sores are removed by the fat of the seal, the ash of menae with three oboli of honey, the liver of the stingray boiled in oil, or the ash of the seahorse or dolphin applied with water. Ulceration should be followed by treatment, which results in a scar. Some roast dolphin fat a in an earthen jar until it flows like oil; this they use as ointment. The shell of murex or other shell-fish reduced to ash clears spots from the faces of women, remove wrinkles, and fill out the skin, if applied with honey for seven days, but on the eighth day there should be fomentation with white of egg. To the class murex belong the shell-fish called by the Greeks coluthia, by others coryphia, equally conical but smaller and much more efficacious, and they also keep the breath sweet. Fish-glue removes wrinkles and fills out the skin; prepared by boiling down in water for four hours and then kneading until liquid like honey. After being thus prepared it is stored away in a new vessel, and when used four drachmae of it, two of sulphur, two of alkanet, eight of litharge, are mixed, sprinkled with water, and pounded together. Applied to the face this mixture is washed off after four hours. Freckles too and the other facial affections are treated by the calcined bones of cuttlefish; they also remove excrescences of flesh and running sores. Itch-scab is removed by the decoction of a frog in five heminae of seawater: the boiling should continue until the consistency is that of honey. In the sea is found a substance called alcyoneum, some think out of the nests of the alcyon and the ceyx, others out of clotted sea-foam, others from the slime of the sea or from what might be called its down. There are four kinds of it: the first is ash-coloured, compact, and of a pungent smell; the second is milder in smell, which is almost that of seaweed; the third is in shape like a whitish grub; the fourth is rather like pumice, resembling rotten sponge. The best is almost purple, and is also called Milesian. The whiter alcyoneum is the less valuable it is. The property of alcyoneum is to ulcerate a and to cleanse. When used it is parched, and applied without oil. With lupins and two oboli of sulphur it removes wonderfully well leprous sores, lichens, and freckles. It is also used for scars on the eyes. Andreas used for leprous sores crabs reduced to ash and applied with oil, Attalus the fresh fat of the tunny.
XXVIII. Ulcers in the mouth are healed by the brine of menae, and by their heads reduced to ash and applied with honey. For scrofulous sores it is good to prick them, but not causing a wound, with the little bone from the tail of the fish called the seafrog. This should be done daily, until the cure is complete. The same property is possessed by the sting of the stingray and by the sea-hare, but the application must be quickly removed, with the shells of the urchin crushed and applied in vinegar, by the sea-scolopendra too applied in honey, and by river-crabs, crushed or burnt and applied in honey. Wonderfully good too are the bones of cuttlefish crushed with old axle-grease and applied. The same prescription is used for parotid swellings as well, as is the liver of the horse-mackerel, and even the crushed pieces of a jar in which fish have been salted, applied with old axle-grease; the ash of the murex is applied with oil for parotid swellings and scrofulous sores.
A stiff neck is softened by what are called sea-lice, the dose being a drachma taken in drink, by beaver oil mixed with pepper and taken in honey-wine, and by frogs boiled down in oil and salt for the liquor to be swallowed. This prescription is treatment for opisthotonus and tetanus. For spasms, however, pepper is added. Quinsy is cured by an application in honey of the heads of salted menae, and by the liquor of frogs boiled down in vinegar, which last is also good for diseased tonsils. River crabs pounded one by one in a hemina of water make a healing gargle for quinsy, or they may be taken in wine and warm water. Garum, placed beneath the uvula with a spoon, is good treatment for it. Fresh or salted silurus taken as food improve the voice.
XXIX. Red mullet, preserved, crushed and taken in drink, is an emetic. For asthma is very beneficial beaver oil taken fasting in oxymel with a small quantity of sal ammoniac. This draught also calms stomach spasms when taken in warm oxymel. A cough is said to be cured by frogs boiled down in a pan as are fish in their own liquor. A prescription is: the frogs to be hung up by the feet, their saliva allowed to drip into a pan, and then, after being gutted, they are preserved after the entrails have been cast aside. There is a small frog that climbs trees and croaks loudly out of them. If a person with a cough spits into the mouth of one of these and lets it go, he is said to be cured of the complaint. For a cough with spitting of blood is prescribed the raw flesh of a snail beaten up and taken in warm water.
XXX. For liver pains are good: ... a sea scorpion drowned in wine, so that the liquor may be drunk, or the flesh of the long mussel taken in honey wine with an equal quantity of water, or if there is fever in hydromel. Pains in the side are relieved by eating the flesh of the sea-horse roasted, or the tethea, which resembles the oyster, taken in the food; sciatica is relieved by the brine of the silurus, injected as an enema. Mussels too are given for fifteen days in doses of three oboli soaked in two sextarii of wine.
XXXI. The bowels are relaxed by the silurus, taken with its broth, by the torpedo, taken in food, by the sea-cabbage, which is like the cultivated kindit is bad for the stomach but readily purges the bowels, and owing to its pungency is boiled with fat meatand by the liquor of any boiled fish; the last is also diuretic, especially when taken in wine. The best is from the sea-scorpion, the wrasse, and the rock-fish, which are neither of a rank taste nor fatty. They should be boiled with dill, parsley, coriander, leeks, and with oil added and salt. Purgative too is stale tunny sliced, and it is specific for bringing away undigested food, phlegm and bile.
The myax also is purgative, and in this place shall be set forth all its characteristics. These animals form clusters, as does the murex, and live where seaweed lies thick, for which reason they are most delicious in autumn, and from regions where much fresh water mingles with salt, for which reason it is in Egypt that they are most esteemed. As the winter advances, they contract a bitter taste, and a red colour. Their liquor is said to be a thorough purge of belly and bladder, cleanses the intestines, is a universal aperient, purges the kidneys, and reduces blood and fat. Hence these shell-fish are very beneficial for dropsy, menstruation, jaundice, diseases of the joints, flatulence, obesity also, bilious phlegm, affections of lungs, liver, and spleen, and for catarrhs, Their only drawback is that they harm the throat and obstruct the voice. Ulcers that are creeping or need cleansing they heal, and also, if burnt as is the murex, malignant growths. With honey added they heal the bites of dogs and men, leprous sores, and freckles. Their ash, washed, is good for dim vision, roughness and white ulcers of the eyes, affections of the gums and teeth and outbursts of phlegm. Against dorycnium and opocarpathum they serve as an antidote. There are two inferior kinds: the mitulus, with a salty, strong taste; the myisca, different in its roundness, rather smaller and hairy, with thinner shell and sweeter flesh. The mitulus too like the murex has a caustic ash good for leprous sores, freckles, and spots. They are washed a also as is lead for thick eyelids, white ulcers, dim vision, dirty ulcers in other parts and pustules on the head. Their flesh makes an application for dog bites.
But clams relax the bowels, as does beaver oil in hydromel, the dose being two drachmae. Those who wish to use a more drastic laxative add a drachma of dried root of cultivated cucumber and two drachmae of saltpetre. Tethea cures griping and flatulence. It is found as a parasite on sea plants, more a kind of fungus rather than a fish. They also cure tenesmus and affections of the kidneys. There also grows in the sea apsinthium, which some call seriphum, found chiefly around Taposiris in Egypt, and is more slender than the land variety, it relaxes the bowels and brings away harmful creatures from the intestines. The cuttlefish too is a laxative. The apsinthium is given in food, being boiled with oil, salt, and flour. Salted menae applied to the navel with bull's gall relax the bowels. The liquor of fish boiled in a pan with lettuce cures tenesmus. River crabs beaten up and taken in water are constipating but diuretic in a white wine. If their legs are taken off they bring away stone, the dose being three oboli with a drachma each of myrrh and iris; iliac colic and flatulence are cured by beaver oil with daucus seed and of rock parsley as much as can be picked up in three fingers, taken in four cyathi of warm honey-wine; while for griping it should be taken with a mixture of dill and wine. The erythinus taken in food is constipating. Dysentery can be treated by frogs boiled with squills to make lozenges, or by their heart beaten up with honey, as Niceratus prescribes, jaundice by salted fish with pepper, but the patient must abstain from all other meat.
XXXII. Splenic trouble is treated by the application of the fish sole, of the torpedo, or of the turbot, but the fish is then put back living into the sea. Bladder troubles and stone are cured by the sea scorpion killed in wine, by the stone which is found in the tail of the sea-scorpion, the dose being an obolus, taken in drink, by the liver of the enhydris, and by the ash of the blenny with rue. There are found too in the head of the fish bacchus as it were pebbles; these taken in water are excellent treatment for stone. It is said that the sea-nettle taken in wine is also good for it, and likewise the pulmo marinus boiled down in water. The eggs of the cuttlefish are diuretic and bring away phlegms from the kidneys. Ruptures and sprains are healed by river-crabs beaten up in milk, by preference asses' stone, however by sea-urchins, spines and all, crushed in wine and taken in doses of a hemina to each urchin, this amount being drunk until benefit is apparent; urchins are also beneficial generally for stone when taken as food. The bladder is cleansed by a diet of scallops. The male scallops are called by some σόνακες (reeds), by others αύλοί (pipes); the female they call όνυχες (nails). The males are diuretic; the females are sweeter and of a uniform colour. [The eggs of the cuttlefish also are diuretic and cleanse the kidneys.]
XXXIII. For intestinal hernia is applied sea-hare beaten up with honey. The liver of the watercoluber, likewise that of the water-snake, beaten up and taken in drink, is good for stone. Sciatica is cured by the brine of pickled silurus, injected as an enema, after previous thorough cleansing of the bowels; chafing of the seat by the head of grey or red mullet reduced to ash. The fish are burnt in an earthen vessel and should be applied with honey. The heads too of menae, reduced to ash, are useful for chaps and condylomata, just as the heads of salted pelatnids, or sliced tunny, reduced to ash and applied with honey. An application of the torpedo to the intestinal region reduces a morbid procidence there. The ash of river-crabs in oil and wax heals cracks in that part; sea-crabs too have the same healing property.
XXXIV. The pickle of the coracinus disperses superficial abscesses, as do the burnt intestines and scales of the sciaena, or the sea-scorpion boiled down in wine for fomentation with that decoction. But the shells of sea-urchins crushed and applied with water are a remedy for these abscesses when incipient; the murex or purple-fish reduced to ash is beneficial for either purpose, whether it is necessary to disperse incipient abscesses or to mature them and make them discharge. Some make up the following prescription: wax and frankincense twenty drachmae, litharge forty drachmae, ash of the murex ten drachmae, old oil one hemina. By themselves are beneficial boiled salted-fish, and pounded river-crabs. For a pustules on the pudenda, ash of the head of menae, likewise their flesh boiled down and applied, similarly the ash of the head of salted perch, with honey added, ash of pelamids' heads, or the skin of burnt squatina. This skin is the one used, as I have said, to polish wood, for from the sea too come useful things for our craftsmen. Zmarides also are beneficial when applied, likewise with honey the shells of the murex or purple-fish reduced to ash, more effectively if burnt with their flesh. Boiled salted fish are specific for reducing carbuncles on the pudenda. It is recommended, if a testicle hangs down, that the froth of snails be applied.
XXXV. Incontinence of urine is remedied by the sea-horse, roasted and taken often as food, by the ophidion, a little fish like the couger, with lily-root added, and by the tiny fish in the belly of the fish that has swallowed them, taken out and burnt for their ash to be taken in water. They also recommend African snails to be burnt with their flesh, and the ash to be given in Signian wine.
XXXVI. For gouty pains and for diseases of the joints oil is useful in which the intestines of frogs have been boiled down, and also the ash of bramble-toads mixed with stale grease. There are some who add to these also barley ash, taking equal weights of three ingredients. They recommend too a gouty foot to be rubbed with a fresh sea-hare, and the patient also to be shod with beaver skin, by preference that of the Pontic beaver, or else with seal skin, seal fat also being good for gout. Good also is bryon, about which I have spoken, a plant like the lettuce, but with more wrinkled leaves and without a stem. Its nature is styptic, and applied to the painful part it soothes the paroxysms of gout. Seaweed too is good, about which by itself also I have spoken. Care is taken with seaweed, not to apply it dry. An application of pulmo marinus is a cure for chilblains, and so is the ash of a sea-crab in oil, river-crabs too pounded and burnt, the ash also being kneaded with oil, and the fat of the silurus. In diseases of the joints paroxysms are soothed by applying fresh frogs every now and then; some recommend them to be cut up before being applied. Flesh is put on by the liquid of mussels and of shell-fish generally.
XXXVII. Epilepsy, as I have said, is treated by doses of seals' rennet with mares' or asses' milk, or with pomegranate juice; some prescribe it in oxymel. Some too swallow the rennet by itself, made up into pills. Beaver oil in three cyathi of oxymel is given on an empty stomach; those however frequently attacked are benefited wonderfully by a clyster; of the beaver oil there should be two drachmae, of honey and oil a sextarius, and the same quantity of water. If indeed persons have a momentary seizure it is beneficial to give the patients beaver oil and vinegar to smell. There is also given the liver of the sea-weasel, or of the sea-mouse, or the blood of tortoises.
XXXVIII. Recurrent fevers are cured by a dolphin's liver, taken before the paroxysms. Seahorses are killed in rose-oil, to make ointment for those sick of chill fevers, and seahorses themselves are worn as an amulet by the patients. The little stones also that at a full moon are found in the head of the fish asellus, are tied on the patient in a linen cloth. Quartans are cured by the longest tooth of the river fish phagrus, tied with a hair on the patient as an amulet, but the patient must not discern the person who attached it for five days; also by rubbing with the grease of frogs boiled in oil at a place where three roads meet, the flesh being first thrown away. Some drown frogs in oil, attach secretly as an amulet, and rub the patient thoroughly with the oil. The heart of frogs attached as an amulet, and the oil in which their entrails have been boiled, relieve the chills of fevers. The best cure for quartans, however, is a frog, worn as an amulet with its claws taken off, or a bramble-toad, if its liver or heart is worn as an amulet in a piece of ash-coloured cloth. Rivercrabs, pounded in oil and water and thoroughly rubbed over the patient before the paroxysms, are beneficial in fevers; some add pepper also. Others prescribe them for quartans boiled down to a quarter in wine, to be taken after leaving the bath; some, however, the left eye to be swallowed. The Magi assure us that tertian fevers are driven away by crabs' eyes, attached as an amulet before sunrise to the patient, but the blinded crabs must be set free into water. The Magi also teach that crabs' eyes, tied on with the flesh of a nightingale in deer skin, drive away sleep and cause watchfulness. For those sinking into lethargus they prescribe that the patient smell the rennet of the whale or that of the seal. Others use as embrocation for lethargus the blood of a tortoise? It is also said that tertians are treated successfully by the vertebra of a perch worn as an amulet; quartans by fresh river snails taken as food. Some preserve them in salt for this purpose, to administer them, beaten up, in a draught.
XXXIX. Strombi rotted in vinegar rouse by the smell the victims of lethargus. They are also good for those with stomach complaints. Those in a decline, with a body seriously wasting away, find beneficial tethea with rue and honey. Dropsy is treated with melted dolphin fat taken with wine. The nauseating taste is neutralised by touching the nostrils with unguent or scents, or plugging them in any suitable way. The flesh of the strombus also, pounded and given in three heminae of honey wine and an equal measure of water, or should there be fever, in hydromel, benefit the dropsical; likewise the juice of river crabs with honey; water frogs too are boiled down in old wine and emmer wheat, and then taken as food but out of the same vessel as cooked; a tortoise a with feet, head, tail, and entrails taken out, the remaining flesh being so seasoned that it can be taken without nausea. River crabs taken in their juice are also reported to be beneficial to consumptives.
XL. Burns are healed by the ash in oil of a sea crab or river crab; by fish glue, or by the ash of frogs, the scalds caused by boiling water; this treatment also restores the lost hair. They think that the ash of river crabs should be used with wax and bear's grease. Beneficial also is the ash of beaver pelts. Erysipelas disappears under the application of the bellies of live frogs; they recommend the frogs to be tied on upside down by their hind legs, so that their rapid breathing may be of benefit. They also use the ash in vinegar of the heads of salted siluri. Pruritus and itch-scab in quadrupeds as well as in man are relieved with great efficacy by the liver of the stingray boiled down in oil.
XLI. The hard operculum, with which the purple-fish shuts its body from view, when beaten up, unites cut sinews even when severed. Patients with tetanus are relieved by an obolus by weight of seal's rennet taken in wine; also by fish glue. The palsied obtain benefit from beaver oil, if they are thoroughly rubbed with it and olive oil. I find that red mullet as a food is injurious to the sinews.
XLII. They think that to eat fish causes bleeding, but that haemorrhage is stopped by crushing and applying the polypus, about which are current the following reports. It of itself gives out of itself brine, and therefore none should be added in cooking; it should be cut with a reed, for iron spoils it and leaves a taint, as the natures of the two quarrel. To stop bleeding they also apply the ash of frogs or their dried blood. Some recommend the blood or ash to come from the frog called by the Greeks calamites, because it lives among reeds and shrubs, the smallest and greenest of all frogs; some that the ash of frogs at their birth in water, while still tadpoles with a tail, and calcined in a new earthen vessel, should be stuffed into the nostrils of those with epistaxis. Opposite is the use of leeches, called sanguisugae, which are employed to extract blood. For these are supposed to have the same purpose as that of cupping-glasses, to relieve the body of blood and to open the pores of the skin; but an objection is that once applied they create a craving for the same treatment every year at about the same time. Many have been of opinion that leeches should be applied also for gout. When gorged leeches fall off, detached by the mere weight. of blood or by a sprinkle of salt; sometimes however they leave their heads stuck fast in the flesh, thus causing incurable wounds that have often proved fatal. An instance is Messalinus, a patrician of consular rank, who applied leeches to his knee, and the remedy turned to a virulent poison. It is especially red leeches that are so dreaded; so they cut them off with scissors while they are sucking, and the blood runs down as it were through tubes; as they die their heads little by little contract, and are not left in the bite. The nature of leeches is adverse to that of bugs, which are killed if fumigated with leeches. Beaver skins, burnt with liquid pitch and softened with leek juice, arrest discharges from the nostrils.
XLIII. Weapons sticking in the flesh are drawn out by the ash in water of the shell of the cuttlefish, also of the shell of the purple-fish, by the flesh of salted fish, by river-crabs beaten up, by an application of the flesh of the river silurus (which is found in other rivers besides the Nile), whether fresh or preserved in salt. The ash of the same fish draws out sharp bodies; its fat and the ash of its backbone take the place of spodium.
XLIV. Creeping ulcers and the excrescences that form in them are checked by ash of menae or of the silurus, carcinomata by heads of salted perch, with more effect if with their ash are mixed salt and headed cunila, and the whole kneaded with oil. The ash of a sea crab that has been burnt with lead checks carcinomata. For this purpose river crab too suffices with honey and fine lint. Some prefer to mix alum and honey with the ash. Phagedaenic ulcers are healed by silurus kept till stale and beaten up with sandarach; malignant ulcers, corrosive ulcers, and festering sores by old tunny sliced; the maggots that breed in them are removed by frogs' gall. Fistulas are opened and dried up by salted fish inserted with lint; within two days such fish remove all callus, festering sores, and creeping ulcers, if kneaded up as for a plaster and applied. Allex also applied in strips of lint cleans sores; likewise the shell of sea-urchins, reduced to ash. Carbuncles are dispersed if treated with salted coracinus. likewise with the ash of salted red mulletsome use the head only with honeyor with the flesh of coracinus. Ash of murex with oil removes swellings, and the gall of the sea scorpion sears.
XLV. Warts are removed by an application of the liver of the glanus, of menae ash beaten up with garlicfor thymion warts they use the materials rawby the gall of the red sea scorpion, by zmarides beaten up and applied, and by allex thoroughly boiled. Rough nails are smoothed by the ash of menae heads.
XLVI. Milk in women is made plentiful by glauciscus taken with its liquor, by zmarides taken with barley water or boiled down with fennel. The breasts themselves are treated efficaciously by shells of murex or purple fish reduced to ash and combined with honey; by crabs too, river or sea, applied locally. The flesh of the murex if applied removes hair growing on the breasts. Squatinae applied prevent their swelling. Lint, smeared with dolphin's fat and then set alight, arouse women suffering from hysterical suffocations; likewise strombi rotted in vinegar. The ash of the heads of perch or menae, mixed with salt, cunsla, and oil, is healing to the uterus; by fumigation also it brings away the afterbirth. The fat of the seal melted in the fire is inserted into the nostrils of women swooning from hysterical suffocation, or else seal's rennet used as a pessary in a piece of fleece. The pulmo marinus, tied on, is an excellent promoter of menstruation, which is checked by living sea urchins pounded up and taken in a sweet wine or by river crabs beaten up and so taken. Siluri also, especially the African, are said to make easier the birth of children, crabs taken in water to arrest menstruation, taken in hyssop to promote it. If birth causes choking, the same medicament taken in drink is a help. Crabs, fresh or dried, are taken in drink to prevent miscarriage. Hippocrates a uses them to promote menstruation and to withdraw a dead foetus; five crabs, root of lapathum and of rue, with some soot, are beaten up, and given to drink in honey wine. Crabs, boiled in their liquor with lapathum and celery, hasten on the monthly flow and produce a plentiful supply of milk; in fever accompanied by pains in the head and palpitation of the eyes, are said to be good for women when given in a dry wine. Beaver oil taken in honey wine is good for menstruation, as also for troubles of the uterus if given to smell with vinegar and pitch, or made into tablets for a pessary. To bring away the afterbirth it is also useful to use beaver oil with panaces in four cyathi of wine, and three-obol doses for those suffering from chill. If, however, a pregnant woman steps over beaver oil or a beaver, it is said to cause a miscarriage, and a dangerous confinement if it is carried over her. What I find about the torpedo is also wonderful: that, if it is caught when the moon is in Libra and kept for three days in the open, it makes parturition easy every time afterwards that it is brought into the room. It is thought to be helpful too if the sting of the stingray is worn as an amulet on the navel, but it must be taken from a living fish, which itself must be cast into the sea. I find in some writers that there is a substance called ostraceum, called by some onyx that this by fumigation wonderfully counteracts severe pains of the uterus; that it has the smell of beaver oil, and is more efficacious if burnt with it; that the ash also of the same substance cures chronic or malignant ulcers. But carbuncles and cancerous sores on a woman's privates have, they say, a sovereign remedy in a female crab crushed up with flower of salt a after a full moon and applied in water.
XLVII. Superfluous hair is removed by blood, gall, and liver of the tunny, whether fresh or preserved, by the liver too when beaten up, mixed with cedar oil, and stored in a leaden box. In this way slave boys were prepared for market by Salpe the midwife. The same property is found in the pulmo marinus, in the blood and gall of the sea hare, or this hare itself killed in oil. There is also used the ash of the crab or of the sea scolopendra with oil, the sea anemone beaten up in squill vinegar, or the brain of the torpedo applied with alum on the sixteenth day of the moon. The blood-like matter (sanies) given out by the small frog, that we have spoken of in the treatment of the eyes, is a most efficacious depilatory if applied fresh; and so is the frog itself, dried and pounded up, and then boiled down to one third in three heminae, or boiled down in oil in brazen vessels. Others make a depilatory out of fifteen frogs treated with the same proportions of liquid, as we mentioned when treating of the eyes. Leeches also, roasted in an earthen vessel and applied with vinegar, have the same effect in extracting hair. The fumes that come from those burning the leeches kill bugs. There are also found those who have used for several days as a depilatory rubbing with beaver oil and honey. Before using however any depilatory the hairs must first be pulled out.
XLVIII. The gums and the teething of infants are helped very much by a dolphin's teeth reduced to ash and added to honey, and also if the gums are touched with a tooth itself. As an amulet a dolphin's tooth removes a child's sudden terrors. The same also is the effect of a tooth of the canicula. The sores however that form in the ears or on any part of the body are cured by the juice of river crabs with barley meal. The other diseases too are relieved if the patients are thoroughly rubbed with river crabs pounded in oil. For siriasis in babies a very efficacious cure is a frog tied as an amulet back to front on the infant's skull moistened with a cold sponge. The sponge is said to be found dry afterwards.
XLIX. Red mullet killed in wine, or the fish rubellio, or two eels, also a sea grape rotted in wine, brings a distaste for wine to those who have drunk of the liquor.
XL. Antaphrodisiac are the echeneis, hide from the left side of the forehead of a hippopotamus attached as an amulet in lamb skin, or the gall of the torpedo, while it is still alive, applied to the genitals. Aphrodisiac is the flesh of river snails preserved in salt and given to drink in wine, erythini taken as food, the liver of the frog diopetes or calamites, attached as an amulet in a little piece of crane's skin, or the maxillary tooth of a crocodile tied to the forearm, or the hippocampus, or the sinews of a bramble toad worn as an amulet on the right upper arm. Love is killed by a bramble toad worn as an amulet in a fresh piece of sheep's skin.
LI. Itch scab in horses is relieved by frogs boiled down in water until they can he used as ointment. It is said that a horse so treated is never attacked again afterwards. Saipe says that dogs do not bark a if a live frog has been put into their mess.
LII. Among water creatures ought also to be mentioned calamochnus, the Latin name of which is adarca. It collects around thin reeds from the foam forming where fresh and sea water mingle. It has a caustic property, and is therefore useful for tonic pills and to cure cold shiverings. It also removes freckles on the face of women. At the same time reeds should be spoken of. The root of phragmites, pounded fresh, cures dislocations, and applied with vinegar pains in the spine; the Cyprian reed indeed, also called donax, has a bark which when calcined cures mange and chronic ulcers, and its leaves extract things embedded in the flesh, and help erysipelas. The flower of the reed panicula causes complete deafness if it has entered the ears. The ink of the cuttlefish has so great power that Anaxilaus reports that poured into a lamp the former light utterly vanishes, and people appear as black as Ethiopians. A bramble toad thoroughly boiled in water and given to drink cures pigs' diseases, as does the ash of any frog or toad. If wood is thoroughly rubbed with pulmo marinus it seems to be on fire, so much so that a walking-stick, so treated, throws a light forward.
LIII. Now that I have completed my account of the natural qualities of aquatic plants and animals, it seems to me not foreign to my purpose to point out that, throughout all the seas which are so numerous and spacious and come flooding into the landmass over so many miles and surround it outside to an extent which might be thought of as almost equal to that of the world itselfthere are one hundred and forty-four species in all; and that they can be included each under its own name, a thing which, in the case of creatures of the land and those which fly, cannot be done. For in fact we do not know all the wild animals and flying creatures of India and Ethiopia and Syria; while even of mankind itself the varieties which we have been able to discover are the greatest in number by far. Add to this Ceylon and various other islands of the ocean about which fabulous tales are told. Surely it will be agreed that not all the species can be brought under one general view for our consideration. On the other hand, upon my solemn word, in the sea, vast though it is, and in the ocean, the number of animals produced is known; andwe may well wonder at thiswe are better acquainted with the things which nature has sunk down in the deep.
To begin with large beasts, there are 'sea-trees,' blower-whales, other whales, saw-fish, Tritons, Nereids, walruses (?) so-called 'men of the sea,' 'wheels,' grampuses, 'sea-rams,' whalebone whales, and others having the shape of fishes, dolphins, and seals well known to Homer, tortoises on the other hand well known to luxury, beavers to medical people (of the class of beavers we have never found record, speaking as we are of marine animals, that otters anywhere frequent the sea); also sharks, 'drinones,' horned rays (?), sword-fish, saw-fish; hippopotamuses and crocodiles common to land, sea, and river; and, common to river and sea only, tunnies, other tunnies, 'shun,' `coracini,' and perches.
Belonging to the sea only are sturgeon, gilt-head, 'asellus,' 'acharne,' small fry, thresher-shark, eel, weever-fish, bogue, skate, grey mullet, angler-fish, garfish?fish which we call thorny, sea-acorn, 'sea-crow,' 'cithari' the worst esteemed of the turbot kind, shad (?), goby, 'callarias' of the 'aselli' kind were it not smaller, Spanish mackerel also known as the Parian and as Sexitan from its native land Baetica, the smallest of the mackerels, cybium (this is the name given, when it has been sliced, to the young tunny which returns from the Black Sea into Lake Maeotis after forty days), 'cordyla' (this too is a very small young tunny; it has this name when it goes out from Lake Maeotis into the Black Sea), black bream, the 'callionymus' or 'uranoscopus,' 'cinaedi'-wrassethe only fishes which are yellow, sea-anemone, which we call nettle, species of crab, furrowed clams, smooth clams, clams of the kind 'peloris,' differing in variety of roundness of their shells, 'glycymarides'-clams, which are larger than 'pelorides,' 'coluthia" or 'coryphia,' species of bivalves amongst which are also the pearl-bearers, 'cochloe' (to the class of these belong the 'five-fingered,' also 'helices' called by others 'actinophorae'), whose rays give a singing sound (outside these there are round shells used in dealing with oil), sea-cucumber, 'cynops,' shrimps, 'dog's right-hand,' weever-fish; (certain people want the 'little weever' to be regarded as a different animal; in fact it is like a large 'gerricula,' and has on its gills prickles which look towards the tail; and when it is lifted in the hand, it inflicts a wound like a scorpion), 'erythrinus,' sucking-fish, sea-urchin, black 'elephants' of the lobster kind, having four forked legs (they also have two arms, each with double joints and a single pair of pincers having a toothed edge), 'fabri' or 'zaei,' 'glauciseus,' catfish, conger eel, 'girres,' dogfish, 'garos,' runner-crab(?) 'horsetail,' flying-fish, jellyfish, seahorse, 'hepar,' flying gurnard(?), rainbow-wrasse(?) species of mackerel, fluttering squid, crawfishes, 'lantern-fish,' 'lelepris,' 'lamirns,' sea-hare, 'lion'-lobsters, whose arms are like crabs' and the rest is like the crawfish, red mullet, a wrasse highly praised amongst rock-fish, grey mullet, 'black-tail,' 'mena,' 'maeotes,' murry, 'mys'-mussel, mussel, bearded mussel(?), purple-mollusc, 'eyed' fish, eel(?), species of bivalves, sea-ear, large tunny (this is the largest of the pelamys kind and it never comes back to Lake Macotis; it is like the 'tritomum' and is best in its old age), globe-fish, 'orthagoriscus' 'phager,' 'phycis' one of the rock-fish, 'pelamys'-tunny, of which kind the largest is called 'choice piece,' tougher than the 'tritomus,' 'pig'-fish, sea-louse, plaice (?), stingray, species of octopus, scallops (the very large ones, and, among these, those which are very black in summer time, being the most highly esteemed; moreover, these are found at Mytilene, Tyndaris, Salonae, Altinum, the island of Chios, and Alexandria in Egypt), small scallops, purple-molluscs, 'pegrides'(?), pinna, hermit crab (or pinas-guard crab), angel-fish which we call 'squatus,' turbot, parrot-wrasse, which is of first rank today, sole, sargue, prawn (or shrimp), 'sarda' (this is the name given to an elongated pelamy-tunny which comes from the Ocean), mackerel, saupe, 'sorus,' two kinds of sculpin, two kinds of maigre, scolopendra-worm, 'smyrus,' cuttlefish, spiral molluscs, razor-shells variously called 'solen,' 'aulos', 'donax,' 'onyx,' and 'dactylus'; thorny oysters, picarels, starflshes, sponges, 'turdus'-wrasse famous amongst rock-fish, tunny, thranis which others call swordfish, 'thrissa,' electric ray, sea-squirt, 'tritomum' ('three-cut') belong to a large kind of tunny, from each of which three 'cybia' can be cut, 'veneria,' cuttle-egg (?) swordfish.
LIV. We will add to these some animals mentioned by Ovid, which are found in no other writer but which are perhaps native to the Black Sea where he began that unfinished book in the last days of his life: horned ray, 'cercyrus' which lives amongst rocks, 'orphus,' and red 'errthinus,' 'iulus,' tinted sea-breams and gilt-head of golden colour; and, besides these, perch, 'tragus,' black-tail with pretty tail, 'epodes' of the flat kind. Besides these remarkable kinds of fishes he records: that the sea-perch conceives of herself, that the 'glaucus' never appears in summer; and he mentions the pilot-fish as always accompanying ships on their course, and the 'chronlis' which makes its nest in the waves. He says that the 'helops' is unknown to our waters: from which it is clear that those who have believed that acipenser (sturgeoa) is the same are in error. Many people have given the first prize for taste to the helops among all fish.
Moreover, there are some fish named by no author. There is one barracuda called 'sudis' in Latin, 'sphyraena' in Greek, in its muzzle resembling its name ('stake'); it is in size amongst the largest; it is uncommon, and does not. degenerate by interbreeding. There are also shells (pinnas) of a kind for which the name 'perna' is given; they are abundant round the Pontiac islands.. They stand like pigs' hams fixed bolt upright in the sand; and, gaping not less than a foot wide where there is broad enough space, they lie in wait for food. They have, all round the edges of the shells, teeth set thick like those of a comb; inside is a large fleshy muscle. I once saw also a 'hyena'-fish (puntarzo) which was taken in the island Aenaria.
Besides all these creatures, certain off-scourings also come out of the sea; they are not worth a description and are to be counted amongst seaweeds and not amongst living creatures.